Nerd Camp 2016

Toward the end of the 2014-2015 school year, my good friend Julie DeMicco mentioned something about "Nerd Camp" and I was instantly intrigued. Julie and I have similar reading lives and interests and, more importantly, we have the same goals for kids. I have learned so much from this woman, so if she was interested in Nerd Camp, I was interested in Nerd Camp. I knew it would be awesome and I quickly signed up.

At that time I had never heard of the Nerdy Book Club and I had only just recently discovered Donalyn Miller (thanks to Julie, of course). I was finishing up my second year of teaching fourth grade, I was in my first year of marriage, and my husband and I had just found out we were expecting our first child. It was safe to assume life was busy for me - in all the best ways possible.

I am so grateful that Julie did mention Nerd Camp, invited me, and introduced me to the goodness that is Donalyn Miller and the Nerdy Book Club. These things have changed my reading life and enhanced my goals as an educator in so many ways.

Just a few weeks ago we came home from our second year at Nerd Camp and it is now safe to say that it is one of my favorite parts of the year! A sort of, Christmas in July, if you will. We come home with so many books it really is like a holiday... This year was the first time I left my daughter, and it was hard, but I know that interests like this are healthy.

This year I knew what to expect at Nerd Camp and I knew that I was not going to take anything for granted. I want to experience EVERYTHING. From 7am Monday morning until 5pm Tuesday evening we are just going, going, going. Running from one session to the next, talking with other educators that just get it and learning more innovative ways to reach our kids and pass on that love of reading.

As hard as it is to admit, last year I let the momentum slip away after I got home. This year I made a vow that I would not do that. This year I am much more focused and know exactly what I need to do, what I would like to do and what I should put on the bench for next year.

Some of the things I decided that I need to do this year are:
  • A Mock Newbery - if you want to know more, check out this amazing post from Amanda! (I have already set up a Donor's Choose page and am hoping to get all the books I need before school starts at the end of August! If you are interested in donating, please contact me!)
  • Revised reader's response logs  
  • Use more picture books in my fourth grade classroom 
  • Continue to work on fine tuning my lessons so they are short mini lessons so we can right to small group work and try to confer more with individual students while they are up at the group table. 
  • Continue to use audio books in the classroom and look into using more Playaways

My library books after getting home from Nerd Camp. During many of the sessions, instead of writing down the titles, I was quickly adding them to my hold list via my library's app. It worked like a charm and since my librarian's are AMAZING these were waiting for me when I got back home to Des Moines.

Ahem. All the books I bought or received while at Nerd Camp. A few I purchased at Barnes and Noble with some of my end of year gift cards from students, but most are from Nerd Camp and purchased from the amazing bookseller Book Bug which is out of Kalamazoo, MI. 

Thank you for reading my first post! I could not be more excited that you are here!

So, what can you expect in upcoming posts? You can expect a lot of book reviews. LOTS. This blog will be very focused on books and reading, so if that is not for you I will not be offended if you leave. I will occasionally post photos of my family and probably a little about what is going on in my life. I am sure I will blog about my kids and what I am doing in my fourth grade classroom. We like to do BIG things and I hope you stick around and check it out. :)

In my next post I will be explaining what Nerd Camp actually IS and sharing more details about the sessions I attended. Stay tuned!

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